KKR v RCB: Gambhir pins hopes on spinners

The Knight Riders captain Gautam Gambhir would be eager to corner another two points and seal the issue but what stands in the way of his aspirations is the mighty batting record of the Royal Challengers, which is in the sixth spot with 10 points from 11 matches.

De Villiers (129 not out from 52 balls) and Kohli (109 from 55) ran riot against Gujarat Lions, in the previous outing, ammasing 229 runs off 96 balls.   -  k. murali kumar

Kolkata Knight Riders will be hoping its spin attack retains the shape against the tournament’s most explosive batting outfit, Royal Challengers Bangalore, when the two square off in an IPL fixture, here at the Eden Gardens on Monday evening.

The home side, having 14 points from 11 outings and currently positioned second in the table, is close to securing the play-off berth. The Knight Riders captain Gautam Gambhir would be eager to corner another two points and seal the issue but what stands in the way of his aspirations is the mighty batting record of the Royal Challengers, which is in the sixth spot with 10 points from 11 matches.

Despite managing a chequered success graph in the tournament so far, the Royal Challengers’ performance is embellished by the batting finesse of its captain Virat Kohli and South African AB de Villiers. The two have tangoed in the imagination of the fans and supporters with an outstanding display of mighty hitting in a sequel of great knocks. The best display of their stupendous ability came in RCB’s last outing against the Gujarat Lions, where De Villiers (129 not out from 52 balls) and Kohli (109 from 55) ran riot against the opposition bowlers in a 229-run partnership off 96 balls. While securing a big 144-run win, the merciless batting display by the Kohli-De Villiers combine propelled RCB to the tournament’s second highest total of 248 for three, which was a few runs short of its own record of 263 for five set against the Pune Warriors in the 2013 season.

Scoring his third century in the current season Kohli presently owns the ‘Orange Cap’ with a tally of 677 garnered from 11 innings. De Villiers is close behind his captain with an aggregate of 538. Given the rampaging form of the two batsmen, RCB also has another acclaimed big-hitter, Chris Gayle, who can get equally imperious on his day.

Gambhir would be hoping his bowlers, especially the spinners, stick to their task against an opponent which is high on momentum after securing a massive win. What will be giving confidence to Gambhir in this situation is the way his spin troika - Caribbean off-spinner Sunil Narine, leg-spinner Piyush Chawla and Bangladesh left-arm spinner Shakib Al Hasan – enmeshed Rising Pune Supergiants in a web of disciplined bowling in the team’s last win on Saturday. While the team’s bowling, which also has the successful West Indian pacer Andre Russell, remains a strong point, the team’s batting remains a bit frayed for want of consistency. The captain himself remains the highest aggregator of runs with a tally of 398 from 11 innings but the team of late has not been able to secure the wins on the performance of the batsmen. If rains, like what it did on Saturday, do not force any interruptions the world-famous Eden Gardens is in for some good action on Monday.

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